UCLA appears to have been presented with a relatively unobstructed home-court route to the NCAA women's basketball round of 16.
The good news for the Bruins (23-7) came Sunday, one day after they clinched a share of the Pacific 10 championship along with Oregon. Now, in addition to its No. 3 seeding in the NCAA West Regional, UCLA gained the right to host its first two tournament games at Pauley Pavilion.
The Bruins will open against Wisconsin Green Bay (19-9) Saturday night at 9 at Pauley. The game will follow a 6:15 p.m. matchup of Kentucky (20-10) and Nebraska (21-11).
The two winners meet Monday night for a berth in the round of 16.
Louisiana Tech (26-2) and Colorado State (31-2) are the top two seeded teams in the West Regional, which will have semifinals and finals at the Sports Arena on March 20 and 22.
UCLA drew the West's No. 14-seeded Wisconsin Green Bay, champion of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference.
The Bruins have already defeated two of the teams playing at Pauley. At Hawaii's Rainbow Wahine Classic in November, UCLA beat Nebraska (85-67), then Kentucky (64-54).
Oregon, by contrast Sunday, was handed a much more difficult path.
The Ducks (24-5) were given the No. 5 seeding in the Mideast and must play Cincinnati (22-8) Friday at Ames, Iowa. The winner gets the victor of the Iowa State (22-7)-Santa Clara (22-6) matchup.
This for an Oregon team that beat UCLA by 106-79 in Eugene and lost the automatic qualifier bid on a tiebreaker, UCLA sweeping Arizona, and Oregon splitting with the Wildcats.
Obvious question: Was the NCAA trying to make up for UCLA's horrible season-ending experience at Alabama in last year's tournament? A clock operator with a slow trigger finger allowed a last-second Alabama basket that replays showed clearly didn't beat the clock.
But it beat UCLA, sending them home with a gaping wound.
"I think it affected the players all spring and summer, and I think eventually they just got tired of talking about it," Coach Kathy Olivier said Sunday.
"Were they trying to make it up to us today? I don't know."
Olivier and her staff planned to be working their phones until late Sunday night, acquiring intelligence on Wisconsin Green Bay.
"I don't know a thing about them, other than they have a very good senior post player," Olivier said, 20 minutes after she and her players watched the televised pairings show in a lounge at the Los Angeles Tennis Center, near Pauley.
That post player is 6-foot-2 Chari Nordgaard, who led the Phoenix to 15 consecutive wins, a 13-1 conference record and a 3-0 sweep of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference tournament.
While that was happening, UCLA was winding up its Pac-10 season by defeating Arizona, 85-77.
Nordgaard will be matched against the Pac-10 player of the year, 6-3 junior Maylana Martin, and at times against UCLA's biggest player, 6-4 Janae Hubbard, who had 22 rebounds against Arizona.
In a closed-door meeting with her team, Olivier said afterward "opportunity" was subject No. 1.
"I told them we've never been in this position before, starting the tournament at home . . . that we've got to take advantage of the situation."